Sunday night in Manchester and The Manchester Opera House welcomed Richard Thompson to town!!!
The night begins with gentle harmony provided by the wonderful Joan Shelley, a singer songwriter from Kentucky no less with songs from her self-titled 2017 album, songs full of mystery, lost love, yearning and nostalgia Miss Shelley provides the perfect support for tonight’s main event.
For years I have caught sight or sound of Richard Thompsons work here and there and thought to myself this guy is doing something different, something unique. So when I bought last month’s Uncut magazine with complimentary CD I was surprised to hear the first track was of course Richard Thompsons ‘Trying’ taken from his new album 13 Rivers. Instantly you recognise the level of the craftsmanship in the arrangement, then in chord progression, then in the melody and finally you realise how great a wordsmith he is. Needless to say there was now no way I was missing his show in my home town even if that meant crawling through the air conditioning system in a Bruce Willis ‘Die Hard’ style and let me tell you I wasn’t disappointed. Accompanied on stage by bassist Taras Prodaniuk (Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, EmmyLou Harris) and sticks man Michael Jarome (Better than Ezra, John Cale, Taj Mahal) the 3 piece occasionally joined by the guitar tech played so sensitively around what would prove to be an absolute master class From Thompson in every way, not forgetting the man’s incredible guitar skills, his solos are brimming with inventiveness, sonically inspirational and as melodic as his songs are. Full of wit, wisdom, introspection and sharp observation Richard Thompson is as relevant as ever, I did however think that sound just wanted a little more oomph and felt throughout that I needed that guitar a little more in my face. I would love to see this great man in smaller more personal venue, however I must say it’s one of the best gigs I’ve been to in a while and would strongly advise anybody to go and discover such an underestimated guitar hero and national treasure. 9/10
13 Rivers is out now on the Proper Records label.
Written by Bo Walsh.